Brute's Bleat March 29, 2017

Maple Lake’s freeze-ups and open water for 2016 and 2017 are some kind of a record with an extra freeze-up and opener this year. The 2016 freeze up was Dec. 17; and 2017’s first opener was March 9. The lake froze over again on March 16 and remained frozen until March 21 when it opened for a second time. Last year’s opener was March 15, something of a record in itself! There just might be something to global warming!
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I noticed a road kill possum on County Road 37 last week which didn’t cause me to shed any tears. Later on Channel 11, meteorologist Belinda Jenson commented about seeing a large one in that station’s backyard studio. I’m not sure if possums are more devastating to eggs of nesting pheasants than skunks, but the internet says, “While they're mainly scavengers - feeding on dead animals and plant matter - they also love insects and occasionally hunt small animals like chicks and snakes.” The good news is they’re not found in northern Minnesota, according to the DNR, which says, “Opossums live in woodlands and agricultural areas in all of Minnesota except the far northern part. The opossum's naked ears, nose, and tail are very susceptible to freezing temperatures, which explains why the species is not found farther north.” That’s good news for the Ruffed Grouse about the possums which have been seen in our neck of the woods in increasing numbers since 2012. . . Anna and I have heard a pair of Sandhill Cranes in Ney Park a couple of times last week while walking Vanna. I even heard a pheasant rooster crow a several times. There were also some Wood Ducks and Mallards on the park’s slough when it opened up as well as several pairs of Canada geese and swans. . . My neighbor, Sharon Heberling, noticed some Wood Ducks in the neighborhood Saturday morning, just a few days after they had removed the covers from their Wood Duck nests. She’s hoping the Wood Ducks take up residency before the Starlings do. . . I put out my unofficial rain gauge Saturday just in time to record the .18 inch of rain that fell over the weekend.
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After two weekends of watching Minnesota’s State High School Girls and Boys Basketball Tournaments it was very obvious the students have learned a lot about the game since the days of one-class tournaments. Shooting, especially three-pointers, seems to get better each year and the teams have stepped up their defenses as well. Long hair was in fashion for the girls, to the point it sometimes covered up their jersey numbers. For the most part, the boys’ heads were neatly trimmed. Being bald and envious I’d naturally notice that! Neighboring Annandale defeated Jackson Co. Central 66-61 in the quarterfinals before losing to Minnehaha Academy 44-76. The Cardinals were playing well in the first half, but were out-classed by the metro Redhawks in the second stanza. Regardless, it was a good tournament to watch and as the old saying goes, “it’s better to have played and lost, than not to have played at all;” or are the correct words, ‘love and lost’! Anyway, our congrats to the Cardinals and their coach, Skip Dolan, on a great season and for winning the 3rd-place consolation title 68-60 over St. Cloud Cathedral. . . Apple Valley’s 60-54 win over Champlin Park in the tournament’s final game Saturday was a fitting finish, but I was pulling for the Champlin Park team who were undefeated until the championship game.
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Reading Dennis Anderson’s story Sunday about fishing walleyes on the Mississippi River with guide, Dick “Griz” Grzywinski, was entertaining as well as informational. He was fishing with a jig and a plastic lure which apparently turned the fish on. Anyway, I remember my brother, Lloyd, trying plastic while trolling a weed bed on Lake of the Woods and doing well with a pink glob. That is something I should add to my arsenal of lures before the walleye season opens on May 13th this year. In the meantime and as soon as the lakes warm up a little, the crappies will be fair game in the shallow spots where they will be feeding. I don’t like fishing in a winter parka to keep me warm so I won’t be the first person on the lake. George Palmer and I had a couple of good outings last year when we caught both crappies and sunfish on Maple Lake early using either a fly rod or a spinning outfit. My boat’s still in the backyard where it will remain until we get enough sunshine and warm weather for me to pull it out without creating some ruts in the lawn. That could be as early as late this week, but in the meantime the strong winds this winter have pruned a host of small branches, etc. off our shade trees that will need to be picked up first. . . It’s not too early to start thinking about town team baseball and there will be a panel discussion titled “A Gathering of Eagles” talking about the golden age of baseball, then and now, and a book, The Best of River-Town Small-ball. It will be at the Ridges Golf Club, Jordan, on March 31, 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. with radio personality, Dick Jonckowski, the moderator. On the panel will be Chaska’s Dale Welter, Maple Lake’s Gary Porter, and a host of other former baseball athletes and dignitaries, Paul Sunder, Mark Hess Lowell Stark. Gen. Rick Nash, Gregg Busch, Nancy Huber, Trent Bohnsack, Tom Melchior, Dan Driscoll, Dave Hartmann and Jim Kubes.

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